I love movies. There’s nothing like watching a great movie and eating popcorn. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Whenever I travel, I like to seek out movies that might relate to the place I’m going. I’m compiling a list of the best movies to watch before you travel to Europe. Or after you travel. If you want a good movie based in Europe, this list has you covered! I’ve put together a list of 74 movies based on country to watch when you travel to Europe. From my favorites set in Paris and London, to the movies that will make you fall in love in Italy, to the true stories set in Germany and Austria.
The Best Movies to Watch For Your European Travels
Paris gets its own category because there are just so many set here.
Midnight in Paris * – Owen Wilson is smitten with Paris and the 1920s. The movie takes place in modern times but somehow Owen is transported back to his favorite decade where the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. If you love Paris or traveling, this is for you. So good. Bonus, Rachel McAdams plays his irritated fiance. P.S. this is on Netflix and if you haven’t seen it, it’s one of my all time faves!
An American in Paris * – starring Gene Kelly (swoon) struggling between a wealthy American woman or a french dancer.
Amélie – this movie takes place in Paris and Amélie, a very shy waitress, is working in a cafe and wants to help the world around her. Her life is drastically changed when she makes a surprising discovery.
Moulin Rouge – We all know about the Moulin Rouge, but this love story is over the top and colorful and just worth the watch.
Hugo – Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.
La Vie en Rose -Marion Cotillard plays the famed French singer, Edith Piaf, who famously regretted nothing.
The Da Vinci Code – Tom Hanks is a symbologist trying to uncover the truth about The Holy Grail, and the truth could shake modern society.
Outside of Paris:
Magic in the Moonlight* – This movie takes place on the French Riviera with Emma Stone as a masterful swindle who is pretending to have contact with the outside world and Colin Firth as the one who is trying to unearth her lies. The backdrop of the Cõte d’Azur is a beautiful setting for this adorable romantic comedy.
Chocolat – Vianne owns a chocolate shop and is new to the small town in France. She inspires the whole village to do whatever it takes to be happy. But the chocolate shop owner is trying to find her own desires.
A Good Year – This movie is with Russell Crowe and is set in Provence. Its lovely scenery and tells the story of an investment banker who travels here to look after a wine estate he invested.
Marie Antoinette – Like most women, I have a fascination with Marie Antoinette. I can tell you, now that I live in Europe that fascination runs deeper. She’s so interesting.
Beauty and the Beast *- It’s a tale as old as time, set in 19th century France, this classic tale is still one of my favorites.
The Intouchables – A really heart warming, true story of a quadriplegic aristocrat whose world is turned upside down when he hires a young, good-humored ex-con as his caretaker.
Les Misérables – A Frenchman trying to escape his criminal past becomes wrapped up in Revolutionary intrigues, overall extremely depressing. But had to include it.
Saving Private Ryan – This intense and brilliant story of the D-Day landings and their aftermath.
Cabaret* – With Hitler on the rise and anti-Semitism growing, the only refuge in Berlin during the 1930s is in the Cabaret.
Inglorious Basterds – Not necessarily putting Germany in a good light, this focuses on Nazi occupied France and a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same.
Flightplan – A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet, the child vanishes, and nobody will admit she was ever on the plane.
Beerfest – In case you can’t guess from the title, this movie is ridiculous. Two brothers travel to Germany for Oktoberfest, only to stumble upon a secret.
Schindler’s List *- One of the best depictions of World War II concentration camps and one man’s strength to help free his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.
The Pianist – Roman Polanski’s biopic about the struggle for survival of Władysław Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody, in an Oscar-winning role), a Jewish concert pianist in Holocaust-era Warsaw.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Two girlfriends who spend a summer in Barcelona and fall in love with the same guy. Starring Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson.
Volver – Another Penelope Cruz flick, the story of three generations of women help each other through the most difficult of times with compassion and humor.
The Passenger – Beautiful cinematography, starring Jack Nicholson, as a television reporter on location in Africa swaps identities with a dead man, hoping that his new life will be more interesting than his old one was.
Pan’s Labyrinth – Amidst a civil war, armed with only her imagination, young Ofelia discovers a mysterious labyrinth and meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving herself and her ailing mother.
The Sound of Music* – We all know and love this one. But really can you get better than nuns in the Austrian alps singing their hearts out?
A Dangerous Method – Based on a true story, the driven Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes the unbalanced yet beautiful Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly) as his patient. Jung’s weapon is the method of his master, the renowned Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Both men fall under Sabina’s spell.
Amadeus – Mozart is a big deal, so it’s no surprise they made a movie about him and the urban legend this movie follows his downfall orchestrated by his nemesis Antonin Salieri.
Life is Beautiful* – A comedic yet touching story set during the Holocaust. So moving and really just an incredible film.
Under the Tuscan Sun * – Diane Lane travels to Tuscany and falls in love with the town. She buys a run down villa and decides to stay. This story hits close to home for me!
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – set in Venice this follows the story of beloved Indiana Jones as he follows in his father’s footsteps to stop the Nazis. Very action packed and lovely scenery of beautiful Venice.
To Rome With Love – With an awesome cast of actors, this movie is about a father meeting his daughter’s Italian in-laws all set in Rome.
Eat Pray Love – Julia Roberts plays a married woman who realizes how unhappy her marriage and life and decides to lose herself in travel. She takes off on a journey to find herself and travels to Italy, India, and Bali.
Letters to Juliet – This rom-com is the somewhat predictable story of Amanda Seyfried, Sophie, an aspiring writer engaged to a man that doesn’t love her, and falls for another on their trip to Italy.
Gladiator – An enslaved Roman general (Russell Crowe) fights his way back to freedom in Ridley Scott’s Oscar winner.
The Godfather* – Italian mobs, Marlon Brando AND Al Pacino? Yes. Francis Ford Coppola’s famous film and its two sequels portray the multi-generational saga of a Sicilian family at the center of organized crime.
The Italian Job – Comic caper movie about a plan to steal a gold shipment from the streets of Turin by creating a traffic jam. There are two versions of this film, the newer version is actually set in LA.
Roman Holiday * – Audrey Hepburn plays a princess who escapes her royal minders, falls for an American newspaperman (Gregory Peck), and discovers Rome on the back of his scooter.
My Life in Ruins – A travel guide rediscovers her romantic side on a trip around Greece.
Troy – The classic tale with a good looking Brad Pitt set in Ancient Greece.
300 – Based on a graphic novel, this is a highly fictional and stylized account of the Battle of Thermopylae.
Mamma Mia!* – This play turned movies is one of my faves of all time. A romantic comedy set to ALL Abba songs on the Greek Islands.
In Bruges – Colin Farrel and Ralph Finnes star in this outrageous and over the top action film, located… in Bruges.
The Monuments Men – In the midst of WWII a small group of art experts are commissioned by Roosevelt as soldiers and sent to the European theater to protect historically important buildings and monuments, and to locate vast troves of priceless art looted by the Nazis.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – A man who works developing photos for Life magazine gets the chance to go out and have his own adventure when his job is threatened and he is sent on a mission.
In The Land of Blood and Honey – A Muslim woman and a Serb policeman find themselves trapped in a complex relationship during the Bosnian War.
James Bond – All of the James Bond movies are set in England. Shaken not stirred.
The Holiday – Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each others countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.
Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Pride and Prejudice* – I love Jane Austen SO much. I can’t get enough. All of these movies (and books) are delightful. Pride and Prejudice (the Kiera Knightly/ Colin Firth version) is my fave!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts creates an extraordinary car. It not only drives but flies and floats as it leads him, his two children and his lady friend, Truly Scrumptious, into a magical world of pirates, castles and endless adventure.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – Mike Myers stars in this ridiculous send-up of mid-century English culture, the first film in a three-part series.
Bend It Like Beckham – A teenage girl of Punjabi descent plays soccer against her traditional parents’ wishes in this comedy-drama.
Billy Elliot – A young boy pursues his dream to dance ballet amid a coal miners’ strike in working-class northern England.
Elizabeth – Cate Blanchett portrays Queen Elizabeth I as she learns the royal ropes during the early years of her reign.
The Imitation Game *- Cryptanalyst Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is recruited by British intelligence agency MI6 to help crack the Nazis’ Enigma code during World War II. One of the most powerful true stories that you won’t believe is real.
Sweeney Todd – Johnny Depp stars as a wrongfully imprisoned barber who seeks revenge in this gritty Victorian-era musical.
Like Paris, London also gets its own categories.
Shakespeare in Love – A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.
A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles star in their debut film, a comedy depicting several days in the life of the band.
Sherlock Holmes – Robert Downey Jr. tackles the role of the world’s most famous detective.
The King’s Speech* – Colin Firth stars as the stuttering King George VI on the eve of World War II.
My Fair Lady *- Audrey Hepburn stars as a poor, Cockney flower seller who is transformed into a lady of high society by an arrogant professor.
Notting Hill* – Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts star in this romantic comedy set in the London neighborhood of…you guessed it. It’s a musical. It’s magical.
Bridget Jones’s Diary * – Bridget Jones is trying to find a man and also fit in a dress. Every woman can relate to this diary-esque romantic comedy.
Love Actually* – An incredible cast of characters who’s love lives seem to intersect. So good.
Leap Year – Amy Adams plays Anna Brady who plans to travel to Dublin, Ireland to propose marriage to her boyfriend Jeremy on Leap Day, because, according to Irish tradition, a man who receives a marriage proposal on a leap day must accept it.
P.S. I Love You – Cue the tears. A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.
Far and Away – Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star as penniless Irish immigrants seeking their fortune in late 19th century America.
The Diary of Anne Frank – A moving version of Anne’s story.
Girl with a Pearl Earring – A fictionalized Vermeer paints — and falls in love with — his servant in Delft.
Ocean’s Twelve – Heist sequel to Ocean’s Eleven, with scenes set in Amsterdam’s Jordaan neighborhood.
Trainspotting – While this movie is centered around drug use, it’s still really interesting and you get to see the beautiful, lush, green countryside of Edinburgh.
Braveheart – Mel Gibson stars in this adventure about the Scots overthrowing English rule in the 13th century.
General European Travel Movies:
National Lampoon’s European Vacation – I love the Griswolds. I think Chevy Chase is hilarious and will watch all of the National Lampoon movies. This one is no different. It follows the same formula of slapstick family comedy taking a trip with your family, this one, set in Europe.
Euro Trip – I have to admit I’ve never seen this all the way through, but I know it’s very crass and over the top, but still a fun movie talking about people taking a trip to Europe.
Anything with a * is one of my favorites.
I know, this list is extensive, and yes, it took me a long time to put together, but I didn’t want to miss anything! But I’m SURE I did.
Did I miss any? Leave your favorites in the comments below.